Customer Experience

The Evolving Role of the Fraud Department

June 27, 2018

In the fight against online fraud, the battle lines have shifted. Instead of duking it out with fraudsters in the trenches, we are now engaged in rolling out new ways of delighting customers and making their experience more seamless.

I’ve written before on the balance between customer experience and fraud prevention.

This time, I’d like to share a bit of my personal experience and a few thoughts on the expectations this reality creates for the fraud department.

My beginnings as a fraud fighter

I began my career in fraud prevention at American Express, where I worked for nearly 15 years. In the first 10 years, my primary focus was on stopping fraud. If you’ve worked in the industry for more than a few years, your experience is likely similar. I was measured by how much fraudulent activity I could prevent. Over time, my indicators became finely honed and I could justify my fraud hit rate.

My team had become very efficient and effective at preventing fraud. Looking back I probably ruined more than a few vacations by stopping transactions that even had the slight appearance of fraud. Around that time, a perceptible shift occurred.

One day, I was called into a meeting and introduced to a concept that I had barely given any thought to in my time as an anti-fraud crusader: customer experience. It was now to be a huge priority.

Going from cost center to revenue generator

Preventing fraud was something that was expected of me and my department. It was a given. But rather than being purely evaluated on those results, I now had a much more critical role to play: how much business I could enable. This idea was a sea change in my career and very new to me at the time.

Rather than playing an advanced game of cat-and-mouse with fraudsters, or wondering if that customer was really at Disney World, I was now assessing the risk of expanding into new markets. Or offering quicker approvals. This concept has only accelerated in the past few years, as more and more companies look to expand into instant offerings, digital goods and rewards programs.

But now, in my role at Emailage working with companies across industries every day, I see that my peers are operating under these expectations.

Customer experience has emerged as the new competitive battleground

People want things and they want them right now. This is great news for consumers. It’s even better for fraudsters, since the “one-click” experience removes a lot of traditional fraud barriers.

Think of your favorite eCommerce site. Of course they have great prices — but is that the reason you shop there? If you’re like me, it’s for the experience. Or maybe both. But currently this landscape is so competitive, great customer experience is very often the deciding factor for a majority of consumers.

The new role of the fraud prevention department is to enable an amazing experience without exposing the business to increased risk. It’s a much more proactive role than when I began my career.

Closing thoughts

It’s for this reason that I believe so much in what we are doing at Emailage. This new reality of fraud prevention as a revenue generator solidifies why the email address is the best data point for transactional risk assessment and identity validation.

We’ve worked very hard to provide a solution which reduces the risk of fraud while allowing for business expansion. Because this is the evolution. This is the future. We’re in an era where you have to keep very advanced fraud rings at bay, while helping to enable new business without risk. With the right tools, you can join this fight with confidence.


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